When historians refer to Weimar Germany, they often relate to the series of troubles the nation faced during the 1920’s; often of political, economic or social descent, embodied by a series of revolutions, depressions, inflations, coalitions and decisions. The Weimar Republic, the political system which is responsible much of Germany’s political instability, emerged following the German revolution in November 1918. In 1919, a national assembly convened in Weimar, where the new democratic constitution was conceived, written and adopted in August of that year. It’s easy to begin to criticise the Weimar Government’s failure, but it’s also important to remember it overcame many of the rulings of the Treaty of Versailles, apart from the 1923 ‘blip’, Germany managed to sustain its reparation payments (which interestingly ended in 2010!), introduced a new currency to prevent the total destruction of the nation, and unified tax politics and the railway system, whilst also formulating a unique cultural impact with its art, music and cinema, producing the adequately named ‘new citizens’ which keenly adopted the new culture (but also led to traditionalist repulsion).
The Weimar was under threat from political revolution throughout its short lifetime, both from the left and from the right. For example, the first challenge the government faced was the threat of the communists who had attempted to create the Barvian Soviet Republic. Fortunately, vigilante freikorps (active paramilitary personnel who ceased to desist after the armistice) managed to scatter the communist rebellion. The Freikorps would strike back, however, in the Kapp Putsch of 13 March 1920. 5000 Freikorps installed Wolfgang Kapp (from a right wing Political perspective) as chancellor in Berlin, and caused the official government to flee to Stuttgart, however the public choice to strike against the Kapp Government led to its demise just 4 days into its establishment. Further communist and Fascist rebellions began to plague the Weimar’s functioning, perhaps most famously being the failed Beer Hall Putsch, 1923 by a minor party called the DAP led by an inspirational orator.
Not only was there civil rebellion, but the allied forces would also play a major part in the government’s failure. In 1923, Germany couldn’t pay its second installation of reparations, leading to the French occupation of the industrial heartland known as the Ruhr. The workers went on strike in a passive resistance, and with no goods coming from the Ruhr, but payments still
Going to the striking workers, the government began to run out of money. Then, they had an idea – why not print more money to compensate? The economy became flooded with money, causing the value of the detach mark to plummet. A loaf of bread costing just 1 mark in 1919 cost 100 million marks in 1923 – it was soo rapid that prices would increase from the time you were in a queue. This caused businesses to collapse, people to lose homes and many to enter a state of destitution. Only was it when Stresemann, chancellor, introduced the Rentenmark as the new currency in November 1923 that the country could begin to recuperate.</span>
Fortunately, the successful Locarno Treaty, with the Dawes and Young plans set Germany up with some stability, if not for a while up until the Wall Street Crash in October 1929.
There were many flaws with the way the Reich would operate in Weimar Germany, namely however there are 2 main problem’; Article 48, which would be exploited by Adolf Hitler to achieve the status of Chancellor, and Proportional Representation, which meant that the amount of votes a party got was reflected by seats held in the Reichstag. As decision was split amongst the nation, many small parties entered the halls of Reichstag, making decisions slow as the disagreements were large. Also when Hitler’s agenda shift came into play after Landsburg prison (1924), the NSDAP managed to gain some ‘representation’ in the Reichstag and then use this to hold the coalition government hostage. Since the government would need their support over certain issues it was possible to levy more power out of the system.
The Weimar culture was a positive one, for those willing to accept it. It saw a great surge in the production of human history, and Germany was the country with the most advanced science, technology, literature, philosophy and art. The golden age of German film began to thrive, new styles like Bauhaus emerged and the more ‘risqué’ culture was thriving, seeing things like the cabaret becoming very popular amongst those in the city, so called ‘new citizens’. Further away from the city, into rural Germany, traditionalist views were still strong, and a great rift began to develop between the new, frivolous ‘new citizen’ and the obstinate ‘traditionalist’.
The Weimar society and sentiment was interlaced with growth and destruction, and although it began to become sustainable, the 1929 Wall Street Crash finally pushed the country down the road to perdition, with Hitler at the helm by 1933.